Page 124 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 9 February 2022

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COVID-19 pandemic—emergency services support

Ministerial statement

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.04): Over the past two years we have seen some very challenging situations for communities worldwide in dealing with the COVID-19 health pandemic. The pandemic has impacted all aspects of life, including the health, education and livelihoods of our community.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend all staff and volunteers across the ACT government who continue to work to support our community through these uncertain and challenging times. Their resilience and determination have been a source of hope throughout the pandemic.

One of the areas of government that have been key to our response to COVID-19 in the ACT is the ACT Emergency Services Agency, for which I am proud to have ministerial responsibility. Our ESA staff and volunteers are a well-trained, highly competent and flexible workforce, prepared to adapt to any situation to ensure the safety of our community. Since the onset of the COVID-19 health pandemic, members from across the ESA have supported ACT Health and other areas of the ACT government with the provision of contact tracing, compliance checks, welfare support, at testing sites, the delivery of goods to vulnerable members of the community and other planning tasks that have supported the whole-of-government efforts to manage the public health impacts and consequences of the pandemic.

More recently, through the ACT Health Directorate, the ESA has been supporting the ACT government to prepare and deliver rapid antigen tests to schools across Canberra, in line with the back to school plan for the ACT. The tests, alongside other health measures, support students and staff to identify if they have COVID-19 as soon as possible so that the necessary precautions can be put in place to keep our school communities safe. Volunteers from the ACT State Emergency Service, the ACT Rural Fire Service, ACT community fire units, ACT Fire & Rescue historical society and our newest members from the ESA, Canberra City Pipes and Drums, have joined ESA staff members to reconfigure bulk RATs into packages for delivery to our schools.

The ESA has set up a reconfiguration and distribution hub at the ESA training centre at Hume to support the operation. Expected to continue over the next few weeks, volunteers and staff have been distributing approximately 20,000 RAT packages per day. The ESA has the operational capacity and resources, including volunteers, staff, and spaces, to undertake a task of this size quickly and efficiently. Working in collaboration with ACT Health and ACT Education, the individual RAT packages were delivered by the ESA and ready for all Canberra schools to use in their first week back.

The ESA has now commenced deliveries of RAT packages in support of our Community Services Directorate to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our

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